Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 11 in F, K413; Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K414; Piano Concerto No. 13 in C, K415

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Profil
WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 11 in F, K413; Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K414; Piano Concerto No. 13 in C, K415
PERFORMER: Vienna SO/Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD PH 04004
These were the first concertos Mozart composed for the Viennese public, and to render them equally suitable for domestic performance he scored them in such a way that the wind parts could be omitted. The most intimate of the three, and for that reason the least performed, is the F major, K413, with its finale in the guise of a gentle minuet. It’s a work that suits Rudolf Buchbinder’s undemonstratively expressive style rather well: there’s nothing about his performance that will make you sit up, but it’s all tastefully and musically done, and undeniably enjoyable on its own terms. It’s in the more glittering finale of the A major Concerto, K414, that the limitations of Buchbinder’s slightly prissy style become all too evident: the whole thing lacks energy and a sense of fun. By comparison, the young Evgeny Kissin and the Moscow Virtuosi are perhaps on the fast side for an Allegretto, but in their hands the music really comes alive. Buchbinder handles the opening movement of the much grander C major Concerto, K415, well, but he’s maddeningly wayward in the slow movement – holding back the tempo on his very first entry, and failing thereafter to establish any basic pulse. Alfred Brendel’s more straightforward but no less deeply felt performance with the ASMF still holds up very well after 20 years, and the same performers are admirable in K413, too. But for the A major Kissin is a real treat, and his disc also includes a fine account of the great D minor Concerto, K466. Misha Donat

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